No Stats and No Facts: The Perfect Vacuum for Manipulating Immigration Policies

By Dan Cadman on June 10, 2016

Center for Immigration Studies Executive Director Mark Krikorian has written a piece for National Review Online titled "No Facts, Please — We're Making Immigration Policy" in which he discusses the gaping vacuum that exists where immigration statistics are concerned. His article notes how the lack of verifiable statistics has become one of the tricks by which proponents of various programs, or indeed of large immigration numbers generally, manage to gull the public by making absurd claims that can't be refuted ... because of the absence of those self-same statistics.

It's a game that has also been played exceptionally well by the administration: Remember the infamous phrase from former Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton that he didn't "cook the books" even as his top boss, Obama, was saying that the yearly ICE apprehension stats were "a little deceptive"? (Of course that, too, was a lie, albeit one of category, because the apprehension statistics were much more than a little deceptive.)

One of the other areas where the administration has shown its sleight of hand to make the rabbit disappear is in benefits adjudication. The yearbooks of each fiscal year used to show not just the number of approvals, but also the number of denials. No longer. The administration recognized early on that those figures would clearly be a flashpoint for both sides of the immigration policy chasm, leaing to charges of both "too many denials" and "not nearly enough denials in this giveaway program". Solution? Dump the denial statistics. They're no longer to be found.

There are three ways in which immigration statistics are routinely "shaped" to permit development of immigration policies within a vacuum of convenience for advocates of large numbers and caterers to special interests:

  • First, suppress key statistics, such as denials, that are in fact maintained in the ordinary course of business. Don't publish them in yearbooks or other data repositories, and find creative ways to defeat Freedom of Information Act requests whenever possible.
  • Second, manipulate the statistics, such as was done with ICE arrests, by shifting thousands of Border Patrol apprehensions into the "ICE" category, with the doubly happy result that ICE looks hugely efficient and amnesty advocates can claim that the lower border arrests show that the border is under control and so Congress should move forward on amnesty.
  • Third, as in the instance Krikorian cites, with elimination of statistics that would show the true size of the H-2B cap "exemption", you choose not to collect them at all, because they might be the proof that puts the lie to your words — something neither politicians nor open borders apologists ever wish.

One would think that analysts, demographers, and academicians would have demanded comprehensive and legitimate data a long time ago, but perhaps the issue has become so polarized that many of them have themselves have been compromised by their strongly held views. Or possibly their voices have simply been drowned out in the cacophony. But however it has come about, it is unacceptable.

In this day and age, with our technological capabilities and advantages it is unconscionable and inexcusable that people studying the issue of immigration — which is at the highest point ever in our nation's history and fundamentally changing America forever — cannot get the most basic of statistics.

If Congress wishes to do something unambiguously for the public good, then it would be as simple as passing a law that mandates the collection, verification, and publication of specifically identified key categories of data in all areas of immigration operations, including permanent and "temporary" visa program benefits grants and denials, naturalization, and enforcement at the border and in the interior.

With this information in hand, perhaps we could then move on to intelligent policy-making. Are our leaders up to the challenge?